New York, NY – It was only fitting the final Big East battle between Syracuse and Georgetown was decided in overtime.
C.J. Fair made up for his forgettable play in regulation with a highlight-reel dunk and a late steal, sparking the 19th-ranked Orange into the conference tournament final with a thrilling 58-55 victory over the fifth-ranked Hoyas.
James Southerland, Brandon Triche and Baye Moussa Keita each scored 13 points for fifth-seeded Syracuse (26-8), which has won three games in three days and will play Louisville in Saturday's finale.
The Hoyas (25-6), which had swept the season series by a combined 33 points, lost as the No. 1 seed in this event for just the second time.
Mikael Hopkins had a game-high 15 points for Georgetown, while Markel Starks and Otto Porter Jr. chipped in 13 and 12, respectively, in the loss.
The storied programs met in the first-ever Big East Tournament title game in 1980. Georgetown won that contest and rallied from a 12-point second-half deficit to force overtime on Friday, but the Orange got the last laugh in their final showing in this event before moving to the ACC next season.
"It's a shame that they're heading down to Tobacco Road for a few dollars more," said Georgetown head coach John Thompson III. "This is a rivalry that meant a lot to our program and to their program and to this conference."
Georgetown pulled even on two Jabril Trawick free throws with 1:48 left in regulation, before Moussa Keita, a 49 percent free-throw shooter coming in, answered with two makes at the stripe for a 51-49 lead.
Southerland's block at the other end helped force a shot clock violation on Georgetown, but Fair, who was 2-of-14 from the field at the time, put up a quick shot and missed to give the ball back to the Hoyas with 22 seconds left.
Fair made another mistake by fouling Porter away from the basket with 7.3 seconds to go, and the Big East Player of the Year sank both free throws.
Michael Carter-Williams missed everything but the backboard on his 18-footer at the buzzer, giving the Madison Square Garden crowd another five minutes of intense action.
Triche scored on the first possession of OT, and after the teams traded baskets, Fair atoned for his earlier errors by going strong to the rim for a left-handed dunk over Porter.
Two Porter free throws cut the deficit to 57-55 with 40.6 seconds to go, and Triche hit 1-of-2 from the line to keep it a one-possession game.
But with time winding down, Syracuse hounded Porter on the right wing, forcing him into a cross-court pass that was picked off by Fair, who was fouled with 3.2 seconds left.
Fair kept it interesting by missing both free throws, though Trawick's halfcourt prayer at the buzzer went unanswered.
"I remember two years ago we ended up beating them twice, and they beat us in the Big East Tournament. We just wanted to return the favor," Triche said.
Syracuse, less than a week after scoring just 39 points at Georgetown, received a spark from someone who failed to even score in that letdown.
Trevor Cooney, after totaling four points in the previous five games, came off the bench six minutes in with Triche in foul trouble and scored all 10 of his points in the first half, including eight during a late 13-0 run.
"Trevor was a surprise, obviously," Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. "We've seen good things from him in practice, but there's no question that...nobody saw this coming."
Georgetown trailed at the break, 29-20, but used a 13-4 run to pull within two, 47-45 on Hopkins' running bank shot with four minutes to play in regulation.
Both teams have played 78 games in the Big East Tournament, the most in the 34-year history of the event ... With four 3-pointers, Southerland tied Gerry McNamara's record of 16 triples in a single Big East Tournament ... Georgetown had been 15-1 as the top seed in this tourney ... Georgetown won seven Big East Tournament championships, but only one after 1989 ... Syracuse has five Big East tourney titles, the last coming in 2006.